Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle startup acquired by General Motors (NYSE: GM) in 2016, has secured an equity investment of $1.15 billion that values the company at $19 billion. The group of institutional investors included parent GM along with funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates and existing partners SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda.
“Developing and deploying self-driving vehicles at massive scale is the engineering challenge of our generation,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. “Having deep resources to draw on as we pursue our mission is a critical competitive advantage.”
Cruise has now raised $7.25 billion in the last year, it said. The company, based in San Francisco, has grown from 40 employees to more than 1,000. It was founded in 2013. It continues to say it will launch an autonomous electric vehicle sometime this year.
GM acquired the company for more than $1 billion. When it acquired Cruise, GM noted the company’s strong push to develop and test autonomous vehicle technology.
“Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry. We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
The push is part of GM’s plan to reinvent itself for the future of mobility and includes a strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft; and the formation of Maven, a personal mobility brand for car-sharing fleets.
In April 2017, GM announced it would invest $14 million in a research and development facility for Cruise in San Francisco, adding more than 1,100 jobs in the process.
“Expanding our team at Cruise Automation and linking them with our global engineering talent is another important step in our work to redefine the future of personal mobility,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Self-driving technology holds enormous benefits to society in the form of increased safety and access to transportation. Running our autonomous vehicle program as a start-up is giving us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications.”
Cruise Automation and GM engineers are testing more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles with self-driving technology on public roads in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and metro Detroit.
In 2017, GM acquired Strobe, a LIDAR technology company, and put its engineering talent under the Cruise division.
“Strobe’s LIDAR technology will significantly improve the cost and capabilities of our vehicles so that we can more quickly accomplish our mission to deploy driverless vehicles at scale,” said Kyle Vogt at the time. Vogt co-founded Cruise Automation and serves as the company’s president and chief technology officer.
LIDAR uses light to create high-resolution images that provide a more accurate view of the world than cameras or radar alone.
In November 2018, GM took another step forward in its management of Cruise by appointing Ammann as CEO. Ammann was president of GM before moving over to Cruise where he is working alongside Vogt. Ammann led GM’s acquisition of Cruise.
“I’m excited to dedicate 100 percent of my time and energy to helping Kyle and the entire team realize our mission of deploying this technology at scale,” said Ammann.